Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Spectacular Now

Movie Name: The Spectacular Now
Year of Release: 2013
Director: James Ponsoldt
Stars: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler, Bob Odenkirk, Masam Holden
Genre: Drama, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

James Ponsoldt's previous film "Smashed" was a minor triumph with several critics, and "The Spectacular Now", which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was again greeted with another array of good reviews. The film follows the story of Sutter, a high school senior, who is extremely sociable and engaged in multiple activities. He has a girlfriend whom he loves, and he's also an alcoholic. His mom has been raising him by herself, since his dad left years ago. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, Sutter accidentally discovers the sweet and discrete Aimee. Aimee is honest, grounded, and becomes enamored of Sutter's charisma and charming personality. This romance, Aimee's first, starts developing little by little as the prospect of going to college looms nearby.
James Ponsoldt's core strength in this film are the characters and the actors who bring it to life. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley create two people who are trying to find their place in the world. Miles drinks himself to a stupor everyday, in order to avoid dealing with the fact that his dad left, and that he's afraid of being alone once his high school days are over (his micro-universe). Aimee on the other hand is smothered by a family life, that doesn't allow her to dream. In a way, they both end up being a catalyst for each other's lives. This web of relationships is captured in a naturalistic way by the director, who captures a slice of every day life, showcasing the dreams and expectations of the young and the sadness and some disillusionment of the older generation. The two lead actors are fantastic, as is the always great Jennifer Jason Leigh and the underrated Mary Elizabeth Winstead. A very good film worth watching!